NYC Subway Attack Possible Hate Crime

12 12 2007

NEW YORK (AP) — A group of people exchanging holiday greetings on a subway last week hurled anti-Semitic slurs and beat four Jewish riders who had wished them “Happy Hanukkah,” authorities said Tuesday.

The prosecutor’s office was investigating the Friday night incident as a possible hate crime.

The four Jewish riders were on a train in lower Manhattan during the eight-day Jewish Festival of Lights when they were approached by a group of 10 people who offered holiday greetings.

When they wished the group “Happy Hanukkah,” they were assaulted, police said. Police caught up with the train one stop later in Brooklyn and arrested eight men and two women, ages 19 and 20.

The four Jewish riders had bruises and welts on their faces and heads, police said.

The group of ten people was arraigned Saturday on several charges, including third-degree assault and menacing and second-degree riot and harassment. They pleaded not guilty.

One of the men charged, Joseph Jirovec, 19, pleaded guilty last year to attempted robbery as a hate crime and was awaiting sentencing, prosecutors said.

Jirovec, who is white, was part of a group that yelled racial epithets and assaulted two black teenagers in Brooklyn, prosecutors said.

Jirovec’s lawyer, Peter Mollo, said Tuesday it was very unlikely his client would attack another person because he or she was Jewish.

“His mother was Jewish,” he said. “It’s very unlikely he would do something like this at all.”

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